During the busiest stretch of her final season competing for the Denison tennis team, Haylee Cannon found the time to come off the court — where she has had so much success — for a ceremony that celebrated what is in store for her future.
Cannon has continued to dominate during singles play over the past two seasons and that culminated with signing her letter of intent on Friday morning to play for Ouachita Baptist University.
She chose the Division II program over Dallas Baptist, Oklahoma Baptist, Texas Wesleyan and Olivet Nazarene. She plans to major in English/Secondary Education and minor in Journalism.
“For me, my list was a Christian school, preferably Baptist, a small school and not too far from home,” Cannon said. “It was kind of a lot of little things. They have an excellent teaching program. I stepped on campus and I knew it was where I was supposed to be.”
Cannon won the District 5-5A girls singles title earlier this month at the University of North Texas with a 6-0, 6-0 victory against Jordan Shepley of Wichita Falls in the championship match.
She was the district runner-up as a junior before claiming the top spot this season. After receiving a first-round bye, she rolled to the title by winning all three matches in straight sets and five of the six sets were 6-0 margins. The other semifinal margin was 6-1.
“I went in as the one seed so I knew my hard work from the year had paid off,” Cannon said. “It’s my tournament to win. I was really happy with my play. My goal is to make state so my work still continues.”
She returns to the Class 5A Region I tournament, which is at Texas Tech University on Tuesday and Wednesday.
It is the second straight region tournament appearance for Cannon, who made the quarterfinals last season before losing to Colleyville Heritage’s Gretech Pfeiffer, 7-5, 6-1. Pfeiffer was the region champion and a state semifinalist.
Cannon opened with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 first-round victory against Chisholm Trail’s Caitlin Souvammavong. She went into the bracket unseeded but is expected to earn a top four seed this time around.
Before winning the district title, she won a pair of tournaments — The Colony and Timber Creek events — to go with a fourth-place finish at the Abilene Invitational. She enters the region tournament with a 30-11 record this spring.
During the fall season, she was voted team captain, went 12-2 overall and 6-0 in district and was a Class 5A academic all-state selection.
“Obviously I’m a senior and I want to do the best I can. I want to win every match I can,” Cannon said. “I want to see how far I can go.”
Her older brother, Tyler, is a junior on the tennis team at Olivet Nazarene, an NAIA program located in Bourbonnais, Illinois.
“I kinda followed in my brother’s footsteps but it started with soccer. They didn’t have soccer in middle school when we got there so we decided on tennis,” she said. “We both got way better at tennis than we were at soccer and decided to stick with that path.”
Cannon will be looking to help improve the Ouachita Baptist program. The team was picked last in the Great American Conference preseason poll, went 0-17 last season — its second winless campaign in three years — and is 0-15 so far this season as it is still trying for its first conference victory since 2013.